Restaurant Review: Chop Bloc
Chop Bloc is a US-style steakhouse located in an 18th-century brewery in the heart of Essex, in Chelmsford’s lively city centre. As it is a newly opened independent restaurant in an area populated with many high-street chains, I was interested to see what it had to offer.
The main attraction at Chop Bloc is the meat. This was made clear from the very beginning, as we were welcomed by some impressive cuts of beef on display at the entrance – if we weren’t hungry before, we certainly were now. We were led upstairs past the open-plan kitchen to our table on the first floor. The seating is an informal mix of tables and booths, with low lighting (interestingly, we were told, crafted from original warehouse meat hooks), exposed beams, and a mixed crowd creating a relaxed but buzzing atmosphere.
General manager Justin made sure we were well settled in, offering us a choice of intriguing aperitifs (including a gin, spice and tomato Red Snapper) to sip on while we browsed the extensive menu. While the menu is pretty meat-heavy, it offers several other options too; there are a couple of delicious-looking fish dishes and even a superfood salad present, to keep the health-conscious among us happy (or just to ensure there’s enough room for dessert…).
How I’ve managed this in my 25 years I don’t know, but I have never actually ordered a steak! So where better to pop that cherry than a restaurant promising, “we've trained with the best, tasted the best and now we’re bringing the best steak to Chelmsford”?
The process of ordering my very first steak was made much less daunting by our lovely waitress, who offered to bring over the house meat board – a service offered to every table. The board features all the different cuts and sizes of meat available, and is presented with a clear explanation of how each one is best cooked and a suggestion for accompaniments. This was a great help, and made me feel at ease when I came to order my main – a medium rare sirloin with Béarnaise butter and truffle parmesan fries.
We shared the baby squid and seared beef fillet tartare to start, both of which we polished off in an instant, and then it was time for The Steak. The sirloin was absolutely the right choice for me – just the right size, tender and tasty – and the generous helping of Béarnaise butter was the perfect accompaniment. I even managed to sneak a forkful of my date’s rib-eye (zero to two steaks in one evening!) with blue cheese sauce, which was just as delicious.
After a most definitely not-necessary but would-be-rude-not-to chocolate brownie for dessert, we were asked if we’d like to head upstairs to Bloc Bar on the third floor. A table had automatically been reserved for us as we were diners, which was a lovely surprise and allowed us to easily continue our evening upstairs without the sometimes awkward “So… where shall we go now…?” conversation. The Bloc Bar cocktail menu was impressive – all the classics alongside some quirkier house specials. Between us we managed to get through several, with the waiter-recommended Blue Lady (Sailor Jerry, Bacardi Gold, guava, passion fruit, lime and pineapple) being a definite highlight.
Overall, Chop Bloc is a great venue for a date, first or otherwise. The relaxed atmosphere, attentive staff and delicious food (and cocktails!) mean you can spend all night here without even realising it. Just don’t eat so much that between you, you exceed the weight limit of the quirky glass lift on your way out and have to ring the emergency alarm (Justin to the rescue!)…